An Unfiltered Report on Current Thought
in the Muslim World
following article was received by FTW on November 18,
2002 from a Malaysian diplomatic source with whom we have
had contact in recent years. It is a compelling and direct
look at the thought processes and viewpoints originating
from the highest levels of Islamic thought as well as
from within those nations who have economic and political
interests that may not always mesh perfectly with the
price of gasoline for a consumer in Topeka, Kansas. It
is extremely important that Americans and the Western
World have direct access to this thinking, unfiltered
by the spin doctors of the American corporate press, which
is so heavily dependent upon and serving of U.S. military
and economic imperatives.
author is the Director General of the respected Malaysian
think tank, the Institute for Strategic and International
Studies. - MCR]
Comment: Need to speak
out as one voice
Mohamed Jawher Hassan
New York, Bali, Moscow. Jenin, Ramallah, Jerusalem. Chechnya,
Xinjiang, Aceh. As one surveys the landscape of terrorism,
both state and non-state induced, one is reminded of the
timeless words of Haile Selassie, that "throughout
history, it has been the inaction of those who could have
acted; the indifference of those who should have known
better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered
most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph".
And soon another evil may be added to the list: an attack
Indeed, history is littered with many sins of omission,
as many as the crimes of commission. But as we wait with
bated breath for what seems to many as an inevitable attack
on Iraq, I am reminded most of all of the sins of omission.
Of the Arab streets that are so silent, when it is they
who should be leading the demonstrations, not the good
people in Europe and Asia and the United States. Of the
Arab and Muslim leaders whose voices and actions should
be more united, forceful and persistent, but instead are
divided, compromised and fitful. And of the many movements
and eminent individuals everywhere who fight for peace
and justice, who should join hands across the globe in
one powerful statement against the evil of unrestrained
military might gone mad, but instead remain silent, or
speak but with disjointed and isolated voices. There are
omissions aplenty elsewhere too. Omissions by the imam
and religious teachers who corrupt a gentle, humane and
enlightened faith by preaching naught but intolerance,
hatred and mindless rejection of all that is progressive.
They bring even more tragedy to the Muslim ummah than
to its alleged enemies. Omissions by Muslim leaders who
cannot summon the wisdom, courage and strength to cleanse
the madrasah and religious schools where these obscenities
and deviant teachings are peddled, every day, every night.
Omissions by leaders, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, who
are unable to lead their people out of poverty, disease
and despair, the seed-beds of alienation and terrorism.
Regimes, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, that do not provide
basic freedoms to their people, till the people can take
no more and rebel. States and super-states that have not
been able to balance the larger integrity of the state
with aspirations for a share in governance by its constituent
parts, leading to pressures for secession and autonomy,
and brutal oppression in turn by the state.
A global system that is too fragile and too easily manipulated
by the powerful to prevent or punish terrorist states
that seize, occupy and annex neighbouring lands, driving
out their people and destroying their homes, depriving
them of all hope and forcing them to become human bombs
because they have no weapons and see no realistic recourse
to reclaim what is rightly theirs. An anti-terrorist campaign
that will not address root causes, and that breeds even
more terrorism because it refuses to acknowledge, much
less rectify, unjust policies. A campaign that feeds the
ranks of the terrorists because in its rage it strikes
out blindly, stigmatising whole civilisations and not
hesitating to indiscriminately destroy both the guilty
few and innocent many alike. A campaign that by its irresponsibility
and irrationality exposes even innocent states and innocent
peoples to terrorist attacks. A global system that by
omission as well as commission enables the powerful to
dictate an agenda for global peace that is steeped in
hypocrisy and double standards. A system that advocates
disarmament, but only for the weak, not for the strong.
The strong continue to
arm themselves ever more, citing justifications that are
denied for the weak, enabling the strong to become even
stronger and compelling the weak to become even weaker.
As a result today there is only one hyperpower, one that
is furiously expanding its hegemonic capacity even more.
It thinks this will provide it security against those
it willfully alienates and antagonises. But there is no
protection against terrorism until root causes are addressed.
Terrorists will seek your soft underbelly, and you are
vulnerable at a thousand little points at home and abroad.
This same system of hypocrisy and double standards has
now approved a resolution that finds Iraq guilty of material
breach of UN resolutions, demands that the country disarm,
or face the consequences, namely war. This system conveniently
ignores Israel, which has been in material breach of many
more UN resolutions for a period four times as long. Iraq
is suspected of having weapons of mass destruction, Israel
is a confirmed owner and producer of weapons of mass destruction.
Israel has these weapons aplenty, and it has used them
to terrorise Palestinians daily for the past at least
40 years. The United States fears that Iraq may develop
nuclear weapons. Israel already possesses them, and there
is not even the mildest of censure from its ally or that
North Korea says it already has a nuclear arms programme,
and this raises the question: why not also attack North
Korea, which presents a more urgent threat than Iraq?
The United States blandly explains that the North Korean
situation can be handled by other means, not war. And
the world swallows this hypocrisy. The world thus stands
guilty again of the sin of omission. As the threat of
war on Iraq draws closer, the global community - governments,
international institutions and people - can do a few things,
so that they will not again be accused of the sin of omission.
They can do six things in particular.
First, countries and institutions that are friends as
well as foes of Iraq can separately and together exhort
the country to disarm and comply fully with UN Security
Council Resolution 1441. Iraq should find it easier to
comply this time around. The present inspection team is
truly multinational and is not heavily compromised with
American presence as was the previous team. Iraq must
provide no pretext for attack, for pretext is exactly
what Washington and London are waiting for. These nations
and institutions must also assure Iraq that once the inspection
team is satisfied they will work to ensure that all sanctions
against Iraq are lifted. The Arab League, the Organisation
of Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement, so
guilty of so many sins of omission in the past, have a
rare opportunity to redeem their credibility in this regard.
They cannot disappoint again. The second is a task for
the people of the world, not for states or international
organisations. The people can continue to agitate against
war. Florence was an impressive event. Half a million
people marching against war is unparalleled in history.
But there must be more. Across the continents and the
seas, people of all creeds and nationalities, women and
men, young and old, must join hands and say no to war.
They must say it together, in one powerful global voice,
and they must say it more than once, until those hard
of hearing in Washington and London do hear, and relent.
An attack on Iraq, however
speedily executed, runs the risk of destabilising an entire
region and alienating an entire world. It will kill, maim
and displace thousands of innocent people in the country.
It will inflame Muslim anger everywhere, turning moderates
into radicals, and transforming radicals into terrorists.
Currently pliant Arab states will face increasing hostility
from their own people at home. The "war" against
terror will begin to unravel. Economies, many of them
already hard put to invigorate growth, will face further
challenges. And the threat of further terrorism will rise.
Third, if war does break out as many expect it will, the
global community must ensure that it is conducted in the
full gaze of the world, for only by so doing can the excesses
of the powerful be checked. There will be an attempt to
limit access by the media. We must fight it. Iraq must
encourage full media presence, be it from the BBC, the
CNN, Al Jazeera or others.
Collateral damage, as it is so cynically and coldly worded,
must be exposed whenever and wherever it occurs, for the
people of Iraq are not responsible for any of the guilt
of the leaders they did not elect. Iraqis have suffered
Fourth, the global community - states, institutions and
people alike - must ensure that those implementing UN
resolutions abide strictly by their mandate, and not exceed
it. Saddam is a very bad and cruel man. The people of
Iraq deserve a better leader. But regime change is not
what the UN Resolution mandates. Indeed, the Security
Council debate has expressly rejected regime change. There
are voices in the US administration that are also reportedly
of the view that Resolution 1441 does not require the
Security Council to pass a new resolution permitting members
to launch an attack if Iraq violates the present resolution.
The global community must reject this outrageous interpretation.
The resolution clearly calls upon the Security Council
to convene immediately upon receipt of a report of Iraq's
failure to comply, to consider the situation and the need
for full compliance. If there is an automatic trigger
there would be no need for deliberation on "the need
for full compliance". And even if a new resolution
were not required, what gives a member state of the UN,
in this case the United States, the authority to attack?
Fifth, if Iraq is attacked and it is defeated - and there
can be no other outcome - the global community must ensure
that the victors do not plunder its rich resources. The
cynics allege that this is the true intent of the current
initiative against Iraq. There are reports that oil deals
are already being worked out.
There are other disturbing reports as well. That Washington
plans to have US military forces directly govern Iraq
for at least three to four months before it is replaced
by an international civilian administration supported
by US troops. And that US Secretary of Defence Donald
Rumsfeld wants the transitional administration to be headed
by an American who will directly report to him. The global
community must not allow such obscenities to come to pass.
All action in Iraq is under the final legal authority
of the United Nations, not of any state. Any force set
up to enforce Iraqi compliance, whether a UN force or
an international force approved by the UN, acts on behalf
of the UN and the international community. Any interim
military administration is a UN administration, not a
Any international civilian administration is a UN administration
reporting to the UN Secretary General, not to some Defence
Secretary of a member state. How Iraqi resources are to
be administered and exploited in the interim will be decided
by these UN and UN-mandated authorities in Iraq, not by
any member state. Sixth and finally, the global community
must challenge the powers-that-be in the UN Security Council
to take similar measures to enforce implementation of
UN resolutions upon the terrorist state of Israel. The
primary target for challenge should be the United States,
for it holds virtually all the cards on Israel. If the
United States fails to co-operate and opposes the initiative
it must be condemned for what it is: a state sponsor of
- The writer is director-general of ISIS Malaysia.
The views he expresses are entirely his own and not the
İNew Straits Times (M) Berhad